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Understanding Success and Failure in the Quest for Peace: The Pan-African Parliament and the Amani Forum

Understanding Success and Failure in the Quest for Peace: The Pan-African Parliament and the... Parliaments in Africa have traditionally been sidelined with regard to security and peace issues. This article compares the Pan-African Parliament, the parliamentary organ of the African Union, with the Great Lakes Parliamentary Forum on Peace, better known as the Amani Forum, which started as an informal regional network and later developed more formal structures. The analysis focuses on the role of these two institutions in conflict prevention. While the Amani Forum provides an excellent example of the potential contribution of parliamentary forums to promoting and restoring peace, the Pan-African Parliament has been unable to operate as an effective parliamentary organ in conflict resolution and prevention. The article examines several factors that can explain the contrasting performances of the two institutions: their formal and informal structures; different membership and organizational structures; the density and quality of intra-institutional ties; as well as differences in geographical and thematic focus. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Hague Journal of Diplomacy Brill

Understanding Success and Failure in the Quest for Peace: The Pan-African Parliament and the Amani Forum

Understanding Success and Failure in the Quest for Peace: The Pan-African Parliament and the Amani Forum


Introduction After the end of colonialism, most national assemblies in Africa were mere appendages to the executive branches of government. 1 Their role was at best that of rubber-stumping institutions, especially in foreign policy. However, much has changed in the last 25 years. 2 Several African legislatures in countries such as Cape Verde, Namibia, Senegal and Tanzania have become more autonomous 3 and increasingly influential in the formulation and implementation of foreign policy. 4 Some parliaments have also developed their own international linkages, leading to the rise of an African transnational parliamentary diplomacy. 5 Two factors explain this development. A first factor is that African regimes have become more democratic and accountable. In the 1980s, only 36 elections were held throughout the entire continent. The number increased to 65 in the 1990s, while 41 elections took place between 2000 and 2005. 6 According to Freedom House, 7 in 1983 only 6 per cent of sub-Saharan countries could be categorized as being ‘free’ (in terms of political rights and civil liberties), with 59 per cent as ‘not free’. In 2003, the figure for ‘free’ countries rose to 23 per cent, while that for countries classified as ‘not free’ declined to 35 per cent. However, the region has experienced democratic backsliding during the last decade, and by 2015 it had returned to the same levels of freedom as in 2001. Africa’s democratization has led to the emergence of a new set of increasingly independent legislatures with the potential to alter the ways in which foreign policies are made and implemented. Several parliaments became actively involved in foreign policy-making through regular hearings and drafting reports on key issues. Some succeeded in being regularly informed by ministers, others created or joined transnational and transcontinental networks, and a few of them questioned and influenced government policies....
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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
1871-1901
eISSN
1871-191X
DOI
10.1163/1871191X-12341336
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Parliaments in Africa have traditionally been sidelined with regard to security and peace issues. This article compares the Pan-African Parliament, the parliamentary organ of the African Union, with the Great Lakes Parliamentary Forum on Peace, better known as the Amani Forum, which started as an informal regional network and later developed more formal structures. The analysis focuses on the role of these two institutions in conflict prevention. While the Amani Forum provides an excellent example of the potential contribution of parliamentary forums to promoting and restoring peace, the Pan-African Parliament has been unable to operate as an effective parliamentary organ in conflict resolution and prevention. The article examines several factors that can explain the contrasting performances of the two institutions: their formal and informal structures; different membership and organizational structures; the density and quality of intra-institutional ties; as well as differences in geographical and thematic focus.

Journal

The Hague Journal of DiplomacyBrill

Published: Mar 11, 2016

Keywords: African Union; Pan-African Parliament; Amani Forum; peace and security; conflict resolution

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